I have been asked this question a few times now. A lady at her wits end writes in saying that her relaxed hair is breaking at an alarming rate and wants to know which products she should get to stop the breakage.
After clearing up the issue of ‘No one product will stop breakage forever if you are not treating your hair right’ she then comes back with the question ‘Will going natural make my hair grow longer?’
It is difficult to give any sort of accurate answer to a question like that because there are so many variables involved however there is one thing that remains fact; Natural hair is stronger than relaxed hair.
With that fact in mind, it can be argued that obtaining longer hair with natural hair would certainly be an easier feat.
Looking at this in more detail; there are 2 main weaknesses in natural hair as compared to relaxed hair.
1. Firstly natural kinky* and curly hair has very tight curls which cause tangles.
2. Secondly, at the site of each individual curl or bend, there will be a weak spot within the hair strand making it prone to breakage.
While relaxing your hair may negate the first point; the hair will be straight so tangles will not be an issue, on the second point, even though by removing the curl you will have got rid of weak spots, the chemical action in your hair will have broken bonds throughout making the whole strand structurally weaker. In essence, you will have swapped one weakness for one invariably worse!
In truth, natural hair being stronger than its relaxed counterpart is certainly likely to grow longer due to its strength. Based on all this, it is no surprise that some women choose to go natural while keeping their hair straightened majority of the time. This may seem to solve both problems mentioned above but with constant straightening, there the very real possibility of heat damage where the hair will not revert to its original curl pattern or may even remain straight after a wash. This then, is not a viable solution for the ‘healthy hair minded woman’.
In conclusion, while natural hair is likelier to grow longer, success will very much depend on the individual’s skills in looking after natural hair and finding methods of keeping the hair stretched to avoid tangles without resorting to heat. Women transitioning without doing research on natural hair practices may find themselves in the same situation as with their relaxed hair; hair growing at the roots but breaking at the ends!
Whether you choose to be natural or relaxed, in order to grow long black hair, you will certainly have to find out the best way to keep your length. Success in getting the length you want will be a trial and error process in finding the products that work for you, hairstyles that will help rather than hinder your progress as well as learning intimately about your own hair. We are not all the same and the most important thing you will probably learn in your hair care journey is to learn what works for you.